Word: pedantic

Pronunciation: pə-DAN-tik

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: excessively concerned with minor details or rules or with displaying academic learning

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


I’m going to take a second here to be completely honest about something: I consider myself a little pedantic. Not about everything; mostly just when it comes to writing. I sometimes catch myself fussing over the littlest details about grammar and technique, and I haven’t been shy in the past about using advanced vocabulary in my stories to come across as an erudite writer (the fact that I just used a word like “erudite” should prove my case). Even my blog’s “Word of the Week” segment probably makes me seem pedantic. It’s a flaw of mine that I’ve had since at least my teen years, possibly stemming from my (admittedly unfounded) insecurities when I was growing up…

A person who’s “pedantic” (i.e. a pedant) is someone who tends to put extra thought into minor details or effort into proving their knowledge. The word possibly has roots in the first element of the Latin noun paedagogus (“pedagogue”, meaning “teacher”), which in turn comes from the Greek word paidagōgos (pais, paid- “boy” + agōgos “guide”).

Aside from myself, I would use a word like “pedantic” to describe a character like a particularly fussy teacher or an executive obsessed with showing off their advanced vocabulary and business skills. As far as I can tell, the word always seems to carry a negative connotation, and thus would be best considered a flaw as opposed to a neutral trait or even a strength. Pedantic isn’t something I’m particularly proud to be; your characters probably shouldn’t be either!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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